When a group of soccer fans joined forces in 2007 to create the Philadelphia-area supporters group Sons of Ben, they did so without a professional team – but they did have a dream of one.
Three years later, that same group got their wish as the Philadelphia Union became Major League Soccer’s 16th club. Now, with nearly a decade under their belt, the Sons of Ben are taking a new approach to their support: fashion.
Partnering with the Union and Mitchell & Ness, Philadelphia’s oldest sporting goods company, the supporters group launched an apparel line Thursday with an array of hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts and of course, scarves. The line includes various designs inspired by Sons of Ben tifo, along with the crests of both the club and its largest supporters group.
Ami Rivera, president of the Sons of Ben, sees the launch as an expansion of an already-large support system for the team.
“I think overall the one thing that the Sons of Ben believe in is supporting the team. For us, the line is a new way of support,” Rivera said. “It’s a way of reaching out to people who haven’t heard about us before or aren’t as familiar with who we are.
“The line not only highlights the team, but highlights what we do. We got to use some really great designs that Ryan Bross, our director of tifo, has spent a lot of time putting together, so to have him represented and all his hard work is just awesome to see.”
With various teasers floating around social media days before the launch, Rivera anticipates a positive reception from the supporters.
“We’ve seen a lot of people online saying ‘just take my money already.’ Even the players seem excited about it,” he said.
Union players Ray Gaddis, Keegan Rosenberry, Taylor Washington, Maurice Edu and Sebastian Le Toux were all on hand at the launch party to check out the new gear. Gaddis, who is featured in many of the line’s promotional materials, said that the connection between the club and the Sons of Ben is what makes the apparel line so special.
“Since I got drafted here in 2012, it was an immediate relationship with the Sons of Ben and myself. For the Sons of Ben to have their own clothing line through Mitchell & Ness and Major League Soccer, it’s exceptional,” Gaddis said. “It says a lot about the sports culture here.”
Those interested in owning a piece of the line should act fast – the capsule collection is an exclusive. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.